Morgan-38 Owners' Group

1998 Fall Newsletter, No.5

Editor's Corner

It's been a rather eventful summer and fall for my family and our M-383 "Watermusic." First we added a couple of nice amenities to our boat, then we took it cruising.

The first amenity is one that I like as much for its visual impact as for its functionality--a dodger. To my eye, the boat wants a little height aft, and our dodger is just that, little. I can see over it standing at the wheel but look through the plexiglass windshield when sitting down. Headroom going through the companionway is certainly one drawback of a small dodger, and the dodger's presence has complicated use of the traveller. But cruising New England in September, we appreciated its protection. Overall it's been a nice addition.

The other amenity was really wonderful, and I recommend it to all owners of M-382s and M-383s. We installed two dorade vents aft, the fronts of the boxes just even with the forward end of the seahood. I purchased teak boxes "off the shelf" from BOAT/US and vents and trim rings from Nicro. A local boatwright installed them, scarfing the bottom of the boxes to follow the contour of the deck. (By the way, he showed me the plug drilled from the deck for one of the dorades and commented that he rarely saw such heavy construction.)

I also put in an aft-facing vent in the anchor locker lid. There is a hawse pipe in our locker, leading to the bin below. This creates an air path from the V-berth through the bin and up into the anchor locker. There is thus a nice air circulation path within the boat when it is closed up. That gives good ventilation, which our M-383 had lacked before. As I say, I recommend these aft dorades highly. (A photo of "Watermusic," showing the dodger and dorades has been added to the M-38 web site.)

Our cruise took us from Rockland, Maine, to southern New England waters with stops at such harbors as Isles of Shoals, Gloucester, Plymouth, Woods Hole, Nantucket, Oak Bluffs (Martha's Vinyard), Cuttyhunk, Newport, Stonington, Mystic, and Block Island. We cruised with our two children, Eliot, age 5, and Julia, 7. (If I were to write an article about our adventures for a travel magazine it might be titled "Playgrounds of the Southern New England Coast.")

Julia slept on the starboard setee, and we installed a lee cloth there that gave her both physical and psychological security. The lee cloth's upper lines secured nicely to the grab rail over the seat. That was a simple and useful addtition.

"Watermusic" has an inner forestay, installed by the former owner. However, he had used it only to fly a staysail as a storm jib, otherwise sailing the boat as a sloop. We decided to give the M-383 a serious try as a cutter and were extremely pleased at the rig's versatility and performance. On the roller-furling headstay we flew a Yankee--a high cut "lapper" with a foot-long tack pennant. The staysail, also cut fairly high to go over the lifelines, hanked to the inner stay and sheeted back about even with the upper shroud. In essence, the staysail fit in under the Yankee, so that air the Yankee missed as a result of its high cut was caught by the staysail instead. Together, the two sails certainly have less square footage than a 135% genoa, but I think they are just about as effective as the bigger sail in all but the lightest air.

The Yankee sheets to the cap-rail track and thence to the primary winches; the staysail to the inner track and the secondaries. Tacking the sails isn't as difficult as it might seem. First, the staysail sheet is released, then a normal tacking proceedure is used handling the Yankee, and, finally, the staysail is sheeted in. NIt's not too bad. The big advantage of the cutter rig is that we can more easily match sails to wind strength--both head sails and full main for light and moderate air; Yankee and full or reefed main for stronger air; staysail with one or two reefs in the main for heavy conditions; staysail only when the going gets really rough. One other advantage to the cutter arrangement is that the largest headsail is considerably smaller than the usual cruising genoa, and that means easier winch work.

In light going with the wind abeam or aft, we flew a cruising spinnker (the sailmaker calls it a "gennaker") and had a fine time of it. All in all, whenever the wind blew above a couple of knots apparent, we sailed quite happily.

I'm always a little surprised at how well the Morgan does in light air, given its displacement and the three-bladed sea anchor we drag along with us. Sailing from Nantucket to Martha's Vinyard one morning, the wind lightened to about five knots on the beam as we approached our destination. Yet boat speed stayed over four knots, and that was with the twin headsails, a dinghy in tow, and at least a ton of fuel, water, and assorted crusing gear aboard. "How can the boat do it?" my wife Barbara asked. "I really don't know," I replied. "I guess we just have to thank Ted Brewer for his fine design."

We hauled "Watermusic" at Somerset Marina on the Taunton River, at the head of Narragansett Bay. Next June should find us on the water, doing the reverse trip. Look for us.

Yours for fair winds... Lenny Reich

From the M-38 Web Site Bulletin Board

I purchased my M-382 several years ago and spent two years bringing it back to life. After putting the boat in the water this past spring, I noticed a small amount of water leaking in around the rudder post--about two gallons a week. Has anyone had this problem and if so how was it repaired?

I assume you mean the water is coming through the packing nut. If this is the case it is a matter of replacing the packing. Ensure you have the right size packing. I had used the wrong size once and it didn't stop the leak. Had to go to a specialty marine store to find the right size.

I too had the problem. During a haul, I bought the biggest channel locks I could find and got the nut off the post. It took heating it a little and tapping on it with some Liquid Wrench. I changed the flax, put it all back together--all done--no leaks. Enjoy the work hanging upside down in the locker unless you're small enough to fit in there.

What wrench did I use? The nut on mine was 3 & 1/4 inch. I ordered a real packing nut wrench from West or Defender (I don't remember which). It only cost about $13 bucks. However, it was still a little tight so I took an angle grinder and " adjusted" it.

Normally, at least in my 1979 M-382, the packing does not leak when not underway. The gland is above the water line. If yours is leaking all the time you might have another problem.

KATRINA'S Golden Years

By Nicholas and Kathleen Newman

In the first two installments of this article, the Newmans described finishing their Charley Morgan 38 Katrina from a bare hull, fitting her out to suit their needs, and taking her on an extended European cruise. This last installment discusses the changes they have made to their boat in recent years.

After our transatlantic cruise was completed in 1987 we reverted to summer sailing in New England, with one winter (1988-9) spent in the Intracoastal Waterway and Bahamas. In this third stage of "Katrina's" life we have made many modifications to ease the effort of sailing for a couple in post-middle-age and replaced gear which is in a similar state as ourselves. The list includes replacing the old Westerbeke 4-107 by a Perkins 4-108, conversion of the galley stove from alcohol to propane, replacing the original mast with a Hood Stowaway system, davits for the inflatable dinghy, and replacement of the opening portlights. I shall describe some of these items insofar as they may be of interest for other owners.

The conversion of the galley stove from alcohol to propane was performed by Luke. Installing the propane tanks was not so straightforward. I wanted the capacity of two 20 pound tanks, without losing too much useful space in the lazarette. The solution, not to be embarked on lightly, involved cutting away most of the deck aft of the cockpit and molding a new deck with raised coamings for three contiguous teak hatches. The center hatch is about the same size as the original stock opening, but it is slightly off center to starboard. On the port side outboard is the new propane locker, molded separately from fiberglass and just large enough to accept two tanks. The locker is vented directly down through the hull, using 1/2" vinyl hose and copper nipples glassed into the locker and hull. The pressure reducer and solenoid shut-off valve are in the same locker. A continuous rubber hose runs from the valve to the stove.

As far as easing the work of sailing is concerned, nothing can compare with roller-furling sails. We avoided roller-furling jibs until our transatlantic sailing was over, thinking (probably with too much caution) that conventional hanked headsails are safer to use offshore. A Harken headstay system was installed in 1988, and that solved half of the sail-handling problem. After considering various alternatives for the mainsail, we decided on the Hood Stowaway and completed this conversion in 1995. A mast section of appropriate strength was selected, with the same vertical dimensions as our old rig (about 2' higher than the stock CM-38). To make up for the lost area of the hollow roach we extended the boom about one foot. Since the new mast section is somewhat larger, it was necessary to make new partners and a mast step, both out of fiberglass. A urethane `Spartite' one-piece wedge was molded for the partners. The Stowaway has been very successful. In addition to the obvious simplicity of setting, furling, and reefing, the outhaul adjustment permits substantial draft control, which is very helpful in light air to alleviate the lee helm.

The wide CM-38 stern is well suited to davits, which alleviate the need to tow the dinghy. We wanted sufficient strength to support an inflatable dinghy with the outboard in place, but we didn't like the bulky cantilever types which are commercially produced. Our solution was to make the davits with carbon fiber and support them from the stern pulpit. First, we made a pair of foam cores, shaped like boomerangs, with a thin layer of glass and epoxy. The carbon fiber was braided around each piece by a specialty shop which makes carbon fiber spars on the same machine. Each davit is supported longitudinally with two stainless pins, one at the deck and the other on the top rail of the stern pulpit, which is diagonally braced forward to take the load. Diagonal struts support the davits athwartships, and four-part tackles with Harken blocks make it easy to haul or launch the dinghy.

During the 1996-7 winter, after 27 years of wear and tear, the deck was stripped of all hardware and re-finished with Awlgrip. This was an opportunity to replace the cast aluminum opening portlights, which suffered from corrosion and also collected water due to their traditional design. The replacements are stainless steel, beautifully finished in Taiwan, with sloping spigots to drain water properly. The old cut-outs were modified to fit the new portlights using a small router (laminate trimmer), with a sloping base angled to match the spigots. Oversize holes were made, and lined with fiberglass to provide a tight seal between the liner and cabin trunk, then routed again with a smaller bit to precisely fit the spigots. After the Awlgrip job was completed, the portlights were installed, with silicone bedding and screws tapped into the trunk from the inside. The spigots were cut off flush on the outside. If finishing rings are installed on the outside in the usual manner, the fit between the spigots and openings can be more sloppy, but regardless of which option is followed a good solid filling of fiberglass should be placed between the liner and trunk.

On the CM-38, small Dorade boxes are molded into the cabin top for cowl ventilators. When our deck arrived in 1970, I was concerned to find that water collected inside the boxes, and we fixed this by pouring resin into the boxes up to the level of the drain holes. Twenty five years later we decided to install larger boxes, which are molded separately and screwed down to the deck. When I cut off the old boxes water was found under the poured resin--not too surprising after a long time of deck flexing adjacent to the mast. I suspect this was the source of some mysterious leaks, and it was very satisfying to grind away the resin, apply a proper fairing, and cover this with fiberglass before installing the new boxes.

Other projects completed in the past few years include modification of the companionway sea hood to include a coaming and bolt-rope slot for the cockpit dodger, and installation of winch-handle lockers in the cockpit coaming. Thankfully, in 27 years and 50,000 miles of sailing we have not experienced any significant structural failures, or defects of the moldings which required major surgery. The decision we made in 1969 to build "Katrina" from the hull and deck of the CM-38 is certainly not one we regret!

The Newmans live in Wayland, MA, and sail out of Woods Hole. Nick can be reached at

Newsletter Artilces Needed!

With the conclusion of Geoff Stevenson's and the Newicks' articles, we are running short of good, informative material for the newsletter. If you indicated on your membership form that you might sometime write an article for the newsletter--and even if you didn't--please think about what you can contribute.

The most important criterion is that the article be informative in a way that gives other M-38 owners information or ideas that they can use to maintain or upgrade their boats or ways that they can improve boat handling, racing success, etc. Content is most important, so don't worry about style, as our editorial department can take care of that.

If possible, it would be nice to have material about Charley Morgan-38s and Ted Brewer-38s in every newsletter. (Articles on Catalina-Morgan 38s are also welcome.) If you would like to discuss a topic or get some further guidelines, please send the editor an e-mail or give him a call.

"Pilgram's" Pacific Adventure

By Geoff Stevenson

This is the second of two articles about Geoff and Brad Stevenson's four-month cruise from the Pacific Northwest to Tahiti and back. Geoff explains how they modified and used their M-383 to make it safe and comfortable.

When we bought Pilgrim in the fall of 1991, she already had fittings on the mast for both an inner forestay and run-ning backstays. I strengthened the bulk-head at the forward end of the V-berth by laminating some 3/4 inch plywood with cloth and West System epoxy. This ran from port to starboard below the anchor locker door and was epoxied down both sides and across the bottom.

By carefully arranging pennants of suitable length, it's possible to use the storm jib on the inner forestay while the staysail remains hanked on. With the staysail tied down, the storm jib's pen-nant should be just long enough so that the storm jib's lowest hank clears the top of the staysail comfortably. (When you're on the foredeck with the big waves going right down your neck, you want to hoist the storm jib ASAP and get back to the cockpit--and you do NOT want to drag the staysail with you!)

We used the staysail in up to 35 knots and the storm jib after that. With the wind over 25 knots, we have now traveled several thousand miles across the Pacific with only the staysail up, our trusty windvane steering perfectly.

We took a sextant and used it a few times but did all our serious navigating with a four-year-old Apelco GPS, which worked flawlessly. We also had a Furuno 1612 radar, with the scanner mounted on its own post on the starboard quarter. It worked impressively. (I should mention that we'd had plenty of practice with the Furuno in late-summer fog in home waters.) It was invaluable for identifying approaching squalls in the tropics, and we used it many nights to track commercial shipping. It also guided us into Moorea and Raiatea as we ap-proached those islands in the dark.

We made two long passages in addition to our first leg: Bora Bora to Hilo, Hawaii (2,500 miles in 20 days); and Honolulu to Victoria (2970 miles in 25 days). We averaged 125 miles a day, with a best day's run of 153. However, we always sailed conservatively, reefing the main early and rolling in headsails the minute the breeze piped up. Ted Brewer's design is easily driven, and with little cost in speed we were able to use the Yankee on the furler rather than the genoa for almost all open-ocean work.

Nothing broke on the boat [amazing on a 15 year old boat--Ed.], although chafe was a constant worry. On one morning's round of the deck, I saw the furling line almost cut right through. We replaced it at once--carry lots of spares if you go offshore--and figured out later that is had been rubbing against the tackle of one of the running backstays (which we were able to reposition).

The jib halyard also gave us some worries. I prefer all-rope halyards, but the jib halyard began to chafe at the masthead sheave after about a week. I had cut it deliberately long, so we were able to shorten it and throw away the chafed section, but this wouldn't have saved us for more than a few thousand miles. So we served and parceled the af-fected section, and I think this would have gotten us home. But in Hawaii, I had a wire tail spliced onto a spare halyard--a much better arrangement.

We took a 44 lb Bruce anchor, a 45 lb plow, and a 35 lb Danforth. I built a box from 3/4 inch plywood that fits on the starboard side of the V-berth to carry the two big anchors and the gas tank for our outboard. The box is bolted in place. The eight-horsepower Evinrude as well as our deflated Avon 310 Rover and its floorboards stow to port in the V-berth. The outboard is lashed in place, and the Danforth lies ahead of it on the berth. (We leave the cushions at home, of course, and also take off the door to the forward cabin when on a passage.)

We added lee cloths to the settee berths and slept there at sea. The quar-ter berth was full of sails and the liferaft, but we were able to move this stuff so we had three berths at anchor in French Polynesia and Hawaii.

I fitted all the extra gear to the boat myself. In addition to saving me a bundle, it gave me a reasonably good idea of how everything worked. When we had a problem with the propane alarm sniffer, for example, it was a simple matter to remove the electric solenoid from the line and disable it.

We had previously replaced the old Galley Maid kerosene stove with a Force 10 propane model. The Force 10 has now cooked a few thousand meals, often at a 25 or 30 degree angle of heel and never let us down. We found a belt for the cook an important safety feature offshore.

We replaced all six opening ports. (We were just in time, as I understand that Bomar no longer makes them, although a Beckson unit also fits the opening.) The original ports were just screwed in place, but we used 11 bolts, with barrel nuts and bedded everything in Sikaflex. Nothing leaked!

Of course, a lot of this extra gear added weight, and Pilgrim settled lower and lower. Raising the waterline about 2.5 inches cured that. We found the interior storage excellent. Leaving the pilot berth cushion at home allowed us to store plastic milk crates there. We also had crates in the shower compartment and on the cabin sole between the table and the port settee berth. (The table is not used offshore.)

After four months at sea, we actually brought some food home! Incidentally, the best food we had aboard was beef, chicken, sausages, and ground beef that my wife Anita and I canned in a friend's pressure cooker before we left. (Anita is the sensible one in the Stevenson family. She knows that the only way to cross oceans is not in a Morgan but a Boeing, preferably the 747 model.)

I've now done about 16,000 miles offshore, most of them in my Morgan 383. With the rig checked carefully, the addition of an inner forestay, and some strengthening of the original lower rudder bearing, I think these boats can go just about anywhere. Many thanks to Ted Brewer and the folks at Morgan for a wonderful, sturdy boat!

Geoff and his wife Anita live in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, and sail out of Victoria.


As of October 1998, the Owners' Group had 144 member boats, broken down as follows: Charley Morgan-38: 22 / M-382: 71 / M-383: 16 / M-384: 31 / Catalina-Morgan-38: 4.

The Morgan-38 Owners' Group News-letter is published three times per year in Belgrade, Maine. Members' articles for upcoming newsletters are needed.

Lenny Reich
(207) 872-3535 w / 465-2334 h
RR#2, Box 4440, Belgrade, ME 04917
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